Paper Lantern Craft for Chinese New Year

February 24, 2015

Paper lanternsChinese New Year, the Year of the Sheep, started on February 19. We always decorate the house with some Chinese New Year crafts, like these cute lanterns. They're easy and fun to make, and make great playdate, school, or scout group activities. They'll also be perfect to have on hand while you watch the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade on Saturday, March 7.

Here's what you'll need to make your paper lanterns:

  • Construction or other heavy colored paper (red is a traditional color for Chinese New Year)
  • Scissors
  • A ruler
  • A pencil
  • Tape
  • A stapler
  • Glue, glitter, stickers, markers, paint, sequins, and other things to decorate your lantern

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

February 23, 2015

Slow cooker chicken tortilla soupWinter  to use your slow cooker, since it's perfect for making long-simmered comfort food favorites that hit the spot on a cool evening. Try out this recipe for a Mexican-style tortilla soup. The technique couldn't be easier: you just throw almost everything in the cooker and let it go all day, adding beans and corn at the end.

Everyone likes this because you can personalize your bowl with various garnishes, like avocado, cheese, sour cream, and more. Fire-roasted tomatoes and smoked paprika give this soup a delicious smoky flavor, but of course you can use the normal varieties of these ingredients, too.

Ingredients

  • 1 32-ounce carton low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 15-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

Hiking with Kids in Marin: Mount Burdell Open Space Preserve

February 23, 2015

Mount Burdell Open Space Preserve Novato

While not as iconic, renowned, or tall as southern Marin's Mount Tamalpais, Novato's Mount Burdell offers its own kind of charm and appeal for families looking for an easy outdoor outing. Mount Burdell Open Space preserve boasts plenty of wide fire roads and trails that are perfect for a hike with small children. Those after more challenging treks can head uphill and look for the seasonal Hidden Lake, hike to the top of the 1,558-foot peak for amazing views of the San Francisco Bay Area, and even drop down into neighboring Olompali State Historic Park.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Comes to Mill Valley Middle School

February 22, 2015

Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryThis weekend, Mill Valley Middle School presents its musical production of Roald Dahl's beloved story, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This year's production involves the efforts of a couple hundred adults and kids, who have spent countless hours building sets, sewing costumes, and developing scenes, songs, and dances to create an imaginative retelling of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Young Charlie Bucket's greatest dream is to be a finders of one of Willy Wonka's golden tickets. But since he can afford only a few Wonka bars, his dream seems like only "pure imagination" until luck smiles on Charlie and he finds the last golden ticket.

Follow Charlie and Grandpa Joe, as well as Veruca salt, Violet Beauregard, Mike Teevee, and Augustus Gloop, as they meet the eccentric Willy Wonka and are led on a tour of his amazing chocolate factory. On the tour they meet a wild cast of characters—street-smart Oompa Loompas, dancing hungry squirrels, breakdancing lollipops, and whipped-cream crowned gymnasts.

Make Your Own Easy Homemade Pretzels

February 21, 2015

homemade pretzelsIt's almost as fun for kids to make their own snacks as it is for them to eat them! This pretzel recipe is easy, fast, and perfect for children to help with, and the results are delicious, too. My kids love to make these tasty pretzels when friends come over. It's a great activity for rainy days and playgroups, too. Why not bake up a batch this weekend?

The only part of this recipe that's not kid-friendly is boiling the pretzels briefly in a baking soda and water solution—have a grown-up handle this part. This step gives the pretzels their characteristic crunch, brown color, and flavor. You can omit it if you like; the pretzels will still be good, but won't be quite the same.

To make the pretzels you'll need:

Marin Family Weekend Fun for February 20, 21 & 22

February 20, 2015

Here are our picks for great events and activities for children and families this weekend. Find more events for the whole week in Marin and beyond in our Family Events Calendar.

Friday, February 20

  • Lake Fishing for Kids
    Stafford Lake County Park, Novato
    Friday, 9–11 am

    Rangers will cast out with the kids at Stafford Lake Park, and try to reel in the biggest fish in the lake. A limited number of fishing poles and bait will be provided. A fishing license is not required for persons under 16. All skill levels are welcome and no experience is necessary.  RSVPs appreciated but not required. Questions or to RSVP: jgilmore@marincounty.org. For more info, visit their website.
  • Sing and Dance with Miss Kitty
    San Rafael Public Library
    Friday, 10:30–11:15 am

    Join Marin County favorite Miss Kitty for a series of fun family concerts just right for children aged birth to 8 years old. Free, no registration required! Location: 1100 E Street, San Rafael. For more info, call (415) 485-3322 or visit their website.
  • Mid-Winter Movie Fest: Despicable Me
    San Anselmo Library
    Friday, 2–4 pm

    Bring the kiddos for an afternoon of fun and a movie. Free. Location: 525 San Anselmo Avenue, Council Chambers, San Anselmo. For more info, call (415) 258-4600 or visit their website.

Saturday, February 21

  • Olompali Family Bird Walk
    Olompali State Historic Park, Novato
    Saturday, 8:30 am–noon

    Beginning and experienced birders are invited to join leaders Rich Cimino and Janet Bodle of Yellowbilled Tours to view Olompali's diverse avian residents as we walk the old ranch road past the park's reservoir. Expect to see some migrating species as well as species who thrive in the park's oak savanna and open grasslands: raptors, warblers, nuthatches, thrushes and—of course—many woodpeckers. Meet in the Olompali parking lot at 8:30 am. Wear layered clothing and bring binoculars, lunch, plenty of water, and a birding field guide if you have one. Free; $8 per car parking fee. For more info, visit their website.
  • Celebrate the Year of the Sheep
    San Francisco Botanical Garden
    Saturday, 9 am–1:30 pm

    Bring the whole family to a day of special performances and hands-on activities in celebration of the Year of the Sheep. See lion dancers, lively folk dances, tai chi demonstrations with dazzling sword forms and more. Enjoy family-friendly children's activities and Lunar New Year Story Times! Location: 9th Avenue, just inside Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.
  • Marin Country Mart Farmers Market
    Marin Country Mart, Larkspur Landing
    Saturday, 9 am–2 pm

    Enjoy the best local and organic produce, flowers, pastured meats, seafood, organic cheeses, yogurt and milk, breads, baked goods, pasta, confections, olive oil, and brunch and lunch offerings! Kids can take a pony ride and visit the petting zoo (10 am–2 pm), try out some arts and crafts (9 am–2 pm) and listen to music (9:30–10:30 am). For more info, visit their website.
  • Lunar New Year Celebration
    Habitot Children's Museum
    Saturday, 9:30 am–4:30 pm

    Lunar New Year is a time of family reunion, food, music and dance. There will be an exciting dragon parade through the museum in which children can participate. Children can practice black ink calligraphy and also create their own paper dragon puppets in the Art Studio. Location: 2065 Kittredge Street, Berkeley. For more info, call (510) 647-1111 or visit their website.
  • Climb Aboard at the Pacific Coast Air Museum
    Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport, Santa Rosa
    Saturday and Sunday, 10 am–4 pm

    Sit in the cockpits of our vintage aircraft, and learn about the history of where and how they were used from the crews who have lovingly restored them. The museum features one or two historic aircraft each Climb Aboard Weekend. Ordinay museum admission fee applies. Location: 1 Air Museum Way, Santa Rosa. For more info, visit their website.
  • Tulipmania at Pier 39
    San Francisco
    Saturday & Sunday, 10 am

    Pier 39 has planted 39,000 spectacular and colorful tulips throughout the waterfront park. Come for a free guided tour led by Pier 39’s expert landscapers beginning at 10 am daily from the Entrance Plaza. After each tour, enjoy complimentary refreshments. For more info, visit their website.
  • Patchwork Series Children's Show: Rudy Trubitt & Hiram Bell
    Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, Berkeley
    Saturday, 11 am
    (doors open at 10:45 am)
    Rudy Trubitt and Hiram Bell appear regularly at the Freight: Rudy hosts the Patchwork Series while Bell teaches beginner and intermediate ukulele classes. They'll combine their considerable talents (guitar, ukulele, harmonica, porch-board and more) in an engaging, interactive performance for young and old alike. Location: 2020 Addison Street, Berkeley. For more info, call (510) 644-2020 or visit their website.
  • Lunar Chinese New Year Festival
    Fourth Street in Berkeley
    Saturday, noon–4 pm
    Join 4th street merchants for a celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year featuring a traditional candy giveaway at participating shops, lion and dragon dancing, martial arts demonstrations, and a blessing of the stores. Free. Location: 4th Street, Berkeley. For more info, visit their website.
  • Chinese New Year: Flying Angels Chinese Dance Company
    Presidio Library Meeting Room
    Saturday, 2–3:30 pm
    Celebrate the Year of the Sheep with a performance of traditional and contemporary Chinese Dance with the Flying Angels Chinese Dance Company. Gung Hay Fat Choy! Free. Location: 3150 Sacramento Street, San Francisco. For more info, visit their website.

Get Back to Nature at Summer Camp 2015

February 19, 2015

NatureBridge Coastal Camp Marin HeadlandsLiving in Marin, you don't have to look far for a summer camp that takes advantage of some of the amazing natural resources we have right in our own backyard. Parents have several outstanding nature and outdoors oriented summer camps to choose from. Here is a selection of some of our favorite day camps in Marin that have an emphasis on the outdoors and the natural world around us for ages 4 to 18. To find more fantastic summer camps, visit our 2015 Marin Summer Camp Guide.

  • Audubon Summer Adventures Camp is located at the Richardson Bay Audubon Center and Sanctuary in Tiburon. Camp sessions start June 8 and run through August 14. Week-long sessions for kids 4–9 take place from 9 am–2 pm, include themes like Amazing Predators, The Mighty Bay, Survivor, Shark Week, and Mud Warriors. Fees for these sessions are $340 per week. They also offer Expedition Camp ($385 per week) and On the Fly Camp ($340 per week) for children in grades 4–6, where campers deliver a little deeper into the varied habitats of Marin County and visit environments like the bay, ocean, redwood forest, and more. Extended hours untiil 5 pm are available for an additional cost. Visit their website for more information and to register.

Sewing 101 for Kids at Marinwood

February 18, 2015

sewing 101 for kids marinwoodMarinwood is excited to announce Sewing 101 for Kids taught by the creative experts from Novato's Studio 4 Art!

This class is designed to create excitement, comfort, confidence, and a love for sewing. Class will focus on back stitch, over sewing, blanket stitch, and running stitches, while incorporating art skills of screen printing and stamping to create your own fabric! Puppets, stuffies, creatures, pillows and bags are just some of the focus. Students will even gain knowledge in simple pattern making and a light introduction to machine sewing. It will be a fun and educational class for all!

Classes will be held at the Marinwood Community Center on Wednesdays from 3 to 4 pm, from February 25 to March 25. The class is designed for children ages 6 to 10. The Marinwood Community Center is located 775 Miller Creek Road in San Rafael.

To register online please visit www.marinwood.org or call (415) 479-0775. Mention Marin Mommies and receive 15% off!

Kids Eat for Free in Marin

February 17, 2015

kids eat free in marinLike many families these days, we find ourselves grabbing lunch or dinner on the go probably more than we should. Of course all this dining out adds up after a while and has the potential to be a major drain on the wallet. Fortunately, there are plenty of great family-friendly restaurants in Marin that offer free dining for kids—usually with the purchase of an adult entree (and only when dining in)—one or more days during the week.

Here's our list of kids-eat-free offers, broken down by location. Please note that all information presented here is, to the best of our knowledge, correct at the time of publishing, but deals come and deals go, so you should confirm with the restaurant before you go, just in case.

Corte Madera

  • Best Lil' Porkhouse BBQ
    60 Madera Boulevard
    Corte Madera 94925
    415) 927-RIBS

    Kids eat free at the Best Lil' Porkhouse BBQ in Corte Madera on Mondays. Get up to one free kids' meal with the purchase of each adult meal. www.bestlilporkhouse.com
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